Join Our Mailing List

Sponsor Us!

Publications:
"Rewriting History in Textbooks"

by Mitchell Bard
(Updated December 1993)


Return to Publications: Table of Contents


Print Friendly and PDF

For many years, publishers have been pressured to revise textbooks to better reflect multicultural values. As in the political correctness debate, in general, Jews have stayed mostly on the sidelines. The result is that distortions of Jewish history have become a feature of some of the most frequently assigned textbooks and little effort has been made to monitor or rectify the situation.

To be fair, writing textbooks that satisfy everyone is probably impossible. Most have multiple authors and are therefore unevenly written. The authors rarely have a background in Middle East or Jewish history. Moreover, in 800-page tomes designed to cover all of world and American history, events must be condensed. In the case of U. S. history texts, space devoted to Jews, Israel and the Middle East is by necessity limited. Still, given the extent of media coverage on the Middle East, and the level of U.S. aid provided to Israel, one might expect greater efforts would be made to explain the basis of the U.S.-Israel alliance.

Occasional mistakes can be expected to slip through the editing process. Still, it is startling to find references to the 1973 war that failed to mention that Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack against Israel on Yom Kippur, or that some recent texts describe the 1991 Gulf War and omit that Iraq fired SCUD missiles at Israel. After reviewing 11 world and 7 American history texts that are among the most widely used, it became clear, however, that inadequate and inaccurate depictions of Middle East history are the norm. The books reviewed here are riddled with flaws. Moreover, errors are consistently to the detriment of the Jews or Israel, which raises questions about the predisposition of the authors and publishers. The anti-Israel bias rarely is manifested in the way material is interpreted, it is usually a result of factual inaccuracy, oversimplification, omission and distortion. The conclusions students are most likely to draw from these presentations are those held by Israel's detractors; therefore, it should not be surprising if students are easily encouraged to believe the worst about Israel when they reach politicized college campuses. Even more worrisome is the likelihood that future American leaders will have their earliest political attitudes toward Israel shaped by misinformation.

- Executive Summary
- Outright Errors
- Islamic Tolerance
- The Holocaust
- Apologists for Authoritarianism
- Jewish Invaders
- Spontaneous Combustion
- Refugees and Revisionism
- Searching for Terrorists
- The Heroic Intifada
- War Erupts
- Israel as the Obstacle to Peace
- Conclusion
- What Can Be Done?
- Bibliography

Executive Summary

The political correctness debate has led to increased scrutiny of how textbooks present the history of different peoples. While many minorities have actively campaigned to have their histories more accurately depicted, Jews have stayed on the sidelines. The following examination of 18 of the most widely used world and American history texts indicates this silence has allowed publishers to distribute books that are filled with egregious factual errors and specious analyses. The mistakes invariably are to the detriment of the Jews or Israel, raising questions about the predisposition of authors and publishers.

The anti-Israel bias is usually a result of factual inaccuracy, oversimplification, omission and distortion. Common errors include getting dates of events wrong, blaming Israel for wars that were a result of Arab provocation, perpetuating the myth of Islamic tolerance of Jews, minimizing the Jewish aspect of the Holocaust, apologizing for Arab autocrats, refusing to label violence against civilians as terrorism and suggesting that Israel is the obstacle to peace. Some of the most flagrant examples that occur in more than one book are the failure to mention that Syria and Egypt launched a surprise attack in 1973 on Israel's holiest day, Yom Kippur, and that Iraq fired SCUD missiles at Israel during the 1991 Gulf War. The books in this study were so poorly written that all but one require major revisions.

The best way to correct the bias in textbooks is for parents to take an active role by examining the books their children are being assigned. If they know or suspect that Jewish history is being distorted, they should protest to the school, school board and publisher. The study does not suggest that anti-Semitic publishers are conspiring to corrupt our nation's youth. On the contrary, it acknowledges that errors are most likely to occur because editors are harried or the books are inadequately reviewed by experts. The best publishers do now want mistakes in their texts. It is up to parents and educators, however, to alert them when they occur so they can be corrected. The result will then be that publishers produce better books and students have more useful educational tools.

Ouright Errors

Here are a few examples of factual inaccuracies: T. Walter Wallbank and Arnold Schrier start their chapter on the Middle East in Living World History (Scott, Foresman and Co., 1990) with a photo captioned: "the Amal fighters of the Palestine Liberation Organization keep watch over Beirut." Amal is an organization of Lebanese Shiite Muslims that fought with the PLO. Paul Thomas Welty and Miriam Greenblatt, in The Human Experience-World Regions and Cultures (Glencoe, 1992), say the PLO was expelled from Jordan in 1971 rather than 1970. In the earlier edition of The Human Experience-A World History (Merrill 1990, 1992), Mounir Farah and Andrea Karls wrote that the Arabs attacked a "few days" after Israel declared independence. The 1992 edition correctly states that the invasion occurred within 24 hours.

The ignorance of geography among high school students has often been decried, but how can they be blamed when they read this description in Global Insights-People And Culture (Glencoe, 1988, 1994), written by James Hantula et al.: "An area of Middle Eastern land, surrounded by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, used to be called Palestine, and Arabs and Jews lived there." The name Palestine was given to an area that existed before Syria, Saudi Arabia or Lebanon existed. In 1921, Britain severed nearly four-fifths of Palestine to create Transjordan (later Jordan).

Another general problem is oversimplification. Though the reading skills of high school students have deteriorated, it was still shocking to discover the "See Spot run" kind of descriptions offered by some texts. The worst book of the 18 under review, World History, by Jerome Reich, Mark Krug and Edward Biller (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1990), contains the following sentence: "The Jewish people were very unhappy under Roman rule." No further explanation is given. The authors devote a total of five pages to the Middle East, out of more than 700, and half are taken up by a map and photos. This is what they say about Israel's war of independence: "Fighting began between Israel and the Arab nations in 1948. This fighting ended in a victory for Israel." The book does not even mention the Palestinians.

Melvin Schwartz and John O'Connor write in Exploring A Changing World (Globe Book, 1993): "In 1948 the nation of Israel was formed. This started a war." Later, they say: "Since the 1948 war, border fights have broken out. Again in 1956, 1967, 1973 and 1982, Israel and some of its Arab neighbors went to war....Israel is still involved in conflicts with its neighbors, especially Lebanon."

Similarly, Hantula et al. relate in Global Insights that "at the core of these [Arab-Israeli wars] was disagreement over who owns the land of Israel, once called Palestine." After the 1948 war, they say, three other wars "broke out." This is the extent of how the text covers the 1948-77 period.

Islamic Tolerance

Perhaps the most serious flaws in most books are distortions resulting from a combination of omission and commission. This is particularly true of the coverage of Islamic history and Muslims' treatment of Jews in the world history texts. The increased attention given to Islam is one change made to recent editions. Its prominence is now at least equal to that of Judaism and Christianity and, in some books, surpasses them. The significance of Islam to world history is not in doubt. What is historically inaccurate, however, is the portrayal of Muslims as paragons of tolerance, particularly regarding Jews.

Don Peretz, a Middle East scholar who should know better, wrote in the regional studies text, The Middle Fast (Houghton Mifflin, 1990), that Muslim conquests in the 7th Century were welcomed by Jews because they were offered religious toleration. As proof of this toleration, he said Jews were appointed to high positions. Wallbank and Schrier's Living World History says that conquered peoples "were generally treated with leniency" by Muslims. Several books cite Maimonides as an example of how Jews flourished under Islam.

In Global Insights, Hantula et al. refer to dhimmas, which they define as "non-Muslims who lived under Islamic rule." The authors say dhimmas did not have to serve in the army, but did pay poll taxes. Many Jews, they add, became famous court physicians. The authors acknowledge that "during certain periods of Islamic rule, non-Muslims in some areas were restricted in their activities and in the way they dressed," but they imply this was justified because it "generally happened when there was an invasion by foreigners toward whom local non-Muslims were sympathetic."

World History-Patterns of Civilization (Prentice Hall, 1990) by Benton Beers is one of the few books that hints that life was not so ideal, noting that Islam protected Jews "in theory if not always in practice." Farah and Karls put it differently, writing that Jews were "treated better under Muslim rule than they had been before" but did not have all the advantages Muslims did. While Jewish communities in Islamic countries fared better overall than those in Christian lands in Europe, Jews were no strangers to persecution and humiliation among the Arabs. As historian Bernard Lewis has written: "The Golden Age of equal rights was a myth, and belief in it was a result, more than a cause, of Jewish sympathy with Islam" ("The Pro-Islamic Jews," Judaism, Fall 1968, p. 401).

Jews were generally viewed with contempt by their Muslim neighbors; peaceful coexistence between the two groups involved the subordination and degradation of the Jews. Jews did thrive culturally and economically at certain times, but their position was never secure and changes in the political and social climate would often lead to harassment, violence and death.

The Holocaust

In the last two years, efforts by historical revisionists to place advertisements in American college newspapers received a great deal of publicity. Such efforts to negate or minimize the catastrophe that befell the Jews might not cause so much concern if people had greater confidence in the quality of education students received about the Holocaust. Any confidence that may exist is likely to be shaken, however, by looking at how U.S. high school textbooks treat the subject.

Based on the 18 books reviewed here, it would be incorrect to say that revisionists have had any impact on publishers. In general, the American history texts are far better than those covering world history. The most consistent problem is that so little space is devoted to the Holocaust that the magnitude of the atrocities of the Nazi period is lost. Most of the books spent no more than two or three paragraphs on this cataclysmic event. World History, by Reich et al., for example, devotes two sentences to the Holocaust and the word does not appear in their index. Jack Abramowitz, in World History-For A Global Age (Globe Book Co., 1985), is a little better, he has two paragraphs.

American history texts often skip the period of Nazi persecution prior to the war. In American Journey (Prentice Hall, 1992), for example, James West Davidson et al. have a single line stating that Hitler blamed the Jews for Germany's defeat in World War I.

Usually, the critical aspects of the Nazi terror are ignored. World History-Patterns of Civilization by Beers, for example, describes Kristallnacht (without using the word) and implies the cause of the pogrom was a Jew who murdered a German diplomat in Paris. In The Middle East, Peretz says Nazi persecution of the Jews began with Kristallnacht. In The Human Experience—A World History, Farah and Karls define concentration camps as "large prisons" and the Holocaust as "widespread destruction." Gary Nash's American Odyssey (Glencoe, 199 1) provides good information through pictures and quotations about synagogues being torched, Jews being forced to wear yellow stars, Kristallnacht and Nazi propaganda, but the material is poorly organized.

The true horror of events is not captured in any of the books. In most, it is reduced to the statistic that six million Jews were killed. In their three paragraphs on the subject, Welty and Greenblatt (The Human Experience--World Regions and Cultures, Glencoe, 1992), mention that people were killed with poison gas but say nothing about gas chambers or crematoria.

Wallbank and Schrier's Living World History devotes more space than most books to the subject, but leaves readers confused because of the way the material is spread across different chapters. In their section on the war, mention is made of 11 million people being killed, but Jews are just lumped in with the rest. That six million of these were Jews is not stated until later in the book. Similarly, the word "Holocaust" does not appear until they review the war crimes trials, 40 pages after discussing (in greater detail than most) the Nazi persecution of the Jews. This also is one of several books that refer to the Nuremberg trials without explaining their significance.

One misleading assertion concerning the Holocaust is that the Final Solution was not "fully discovered" until after the war. The American history texts usually say that reports reached the Allies during the war, but the full horror was not revealed until the camps were liberated. Farah and Karls acknowledge in The Human Experience-A World History that the Allies heard "rumors" about Nazi genocide, but like the other world history books fail to report what American officials knew and what actions they took (and did not take) on the basis of that information. The United States and Its People (Addison-Wesley, 1993) by David King, Norman McRae and Jaye Zola is the most accurate in stating that American newspapers began reporting atrocities as early as 1942 and explaining reasons why they were not believed.

Given the quality of the writing on the Holocaust, it is not surprising that the centrality of the Nazi campaign against the Jews is sometimes lost. Schwartz and O'Connor write in Exploring A Changing World, for example: "For about 2,000 years, many Jewish people lived in Europe. But during the rule of Adolf Hitler in Germany, millions of Jews were killed." Like most books, they mention that Hitler "blamed all of the country's troubles on the Jews." They go on to say that "Hitler had six million Jews and many other innocent people murdered in what became known as the Holocaust."

The American history texts focus more on the U.S. government's position, and several refer to the immigration restrictions imposed before and during the war. Mary Beth Norton et al., in A People & A Nation (Houghton Mifflin, 1990), for example, tell the story of the St. Louis and the Bermuda Conference. They and several others also talk about the failure of the Allies to bomb Auschwitz.

One reflection of the popular value-free approach to history is the tendency to equate actions to avoid assigning responsibility or appearing to take sides. Thus, for example, in World History-Traditions and New Directions (Addison-Wesley, 1989), Peter Steams, Donald Schwartz and Barry Beyer draw an astonishing parallel between the actions of the Germans and the Allies. "Nazi murder of the Jews and other groups was the foremost atrocity of the war, but the Allies also acted harshly," they write.

The most obvious conclusion to draw from reading textbook descriptions, particularly in the world history books, is that scholars need to write a few descriptive paragraphs that could be used to explain the Nazi extermination program, what made the experience of the Jews unique, and the impact it had on the world. Nash's American Odyssey and The United States and Its People by King et al. have good material to work from. Probably

the best section on the Holocaust in any of the 18 books appears in Henry Graff's America: The Glorious Republic (MA: Houghton Mifflin, Co., 1988).

Apologists for Authoritarianism

Despite the attention given to Islam, there is a clear lack of proportion to the space devoted to the 20 members of the Arab League. Most books write little or nothing about countries other than Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Peretz, for example, devotes chapters in The Middle East to Israel and Egypt and a third one to the rest of the Arab states. In World History--Traditions and New Directions, Stearns et al. spend 11 paragraphs on Israel and 11 on the other Middle East nations.

While the approach toward Islam strains for neutrality, the coverage of Arab politics tends toward apologetics. Inter-Arab conflict is rarely mentioned. Abramowitz, in World History for A Global Age, is one of the few who spent as much as a paragraph on the subject, and he referred only to the Palestinians in Jordan.

The most serious distortion appears in the descriptions of Arab regimes, which are usually portrayed in benign or positive terms, and the ascension of leaders to power is grossly misrepresented. Beers writes in World History-Patterns of Civilization that Hafez Assad simply "became President" of Syria in 1971. Wallbank and Schrier say the same thing in Living World History, under the subhead: "Egypt, Syria and Iraq benefitted from strong leadership." They do add that Assad has ruled "with an iron hand," but they seem to justify it by explaining that the Muslim Brotherhood carried out more than 300 assassinations in 1981. Assad kept Syria united, Wallbank and Schrier say, "at the cost of dictatorship and the absence of free expression." They fail to mention that he also put down the Brotherhood's rebellion by razing the city of Hama and killing as many as 25,000 people.

In The Middle East, Peretz at least mentions the coups in Iraq and Syria that were the most frequent method of changing governments, but neither he nor any of the others point out the deficiencies in the political systems in the Arab countries. Schwartz and O'Connor write in Exploring A Changing World, for example, that since World War II, the newly independent Arab nations "have worked to establish stable governments." In The Human Experience--World Regions and Cultures, Welty and Greenblatt go so far as to excuse Arab governments for adopting authoritarian forms of government. They assert that military takeovers are common because army officers are better educated, the army is the most effective power base other than religion and historical tradition favors military rule in the Arab world. These are the same authors who write that one of Faisal's first acts as King of Saudi Arabia in 1964 was to abolish slavery, as if nothing was unusual about the practice of slavery a century after the Emancipation Proclamation. They also ignore the evidence that slavery continues to be practiced in parts of the Arab world to this day.

Like some other authors, Steams et al. talk more about how the Arabs triumphantly threw off colonialism than how they subsequently imposed despotism. "Many leaders felt that the political challenges of rapid modernization required strong leadership and government control," students are taught in World History-Traditions and New Directions.

Furthermore, the books do not distinguish Israel's political system from that of the Arab states. Schwartz and O'Connor do observe in Exploring A Changing World that "Israel has one of the few democratic governments in this region," but it is not clear what other governments they have in mind as democracies.

Jewish Invaders

The coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict is particularly abysmal. Much of the crucial history of Palestine before 1948 is omitted, particularly from the U.S. history books. Those texts that discuss the mandatory period present the Arab version of history; that is, an unrestrained flood of Jewish immigrants invaded a land already inhabited by another people, who were subsequently forced out. The historical Jewish presence in the country is usually ignored. Beers, for example, implies in World History--Patterns of Civilization that no Jews lived in Palestine until Eastern Europeans came in the 1920's and 30's (nearly 40 years after the First Aliyah) and found more than 650,000 Arabs already living there. Farah and Karls write in The Human Experience-A World History that only 50,000 Jews, most from Eastern Europe, lived in Palestine at the time of the First World War, comprising only 10 percent of the population. The actual number was more than 80,000, closer to 15 percent of the total population. Welty and Greenblatt say in The Human Experience--World Regions and Cultures that Jews only migrated to Palestine from the 1920's on and give the impression the British did not impose restrictions until right before WWII. Peretz goes further in The Middle East and implies Zionists were given advantages by the British because the First High Commissioner, Herbert Samuel, was a Jew.

In the 1990 edition of The Human Experience-A World History, Farah and Karls mention that the British limited immigration and that Arabs staged protests and attacked Jews. It incorrectly states, however, that the Jews "rioted against British limits on immigration" in the 1920's. In the newer edition, they say the flow of immigrants "swelled to a torrent" during World War II and that the Arabs began to attack settlers to slow the influx. By the end of the war, they say, guerilla raids were common in Palestine, but do not specify who was responsible. They also fail to mention the extraordinary British efforts to curtail immigration at this time.

"Despite Arab opposition, the rate of Jewish immigration was stepped up, and the number of Jews in the country increased greatly, causing fear that they would soon outnumber the Arabs," according to Peretz in The Middle East. The truth is that Jewish immigration was constant from 1920 to 1923, increased about 60 percent in 1924 (to less than 14,000), and then nearly tripled in 1925. New restrictions were then imposed by the British, however, and the rate dropped back less than 14,000 the next year and then was no more than 5,200 in any year until 1932. The numbers began to dramatically increase again, reaching a peak of more than 66,000 in 1935, but then new limitations were imposed and the numbers fell equally dramatically for the next three years, to less than 15,000. Arabs did express fears of being dispossessed, but British commissions consistently found them unfounded (yet placed new restrictions on immigration). Meanwhile, no text offers any statistics regarding the immigration of Arabs into Palestine. Actually, the non-Jewish population grew more than the Jewish population between the wars.

A good deal of effort is also made to glorify Arab nationalism. Given the lack of attention to the nature of Arab regimes, these discussions imply a progressive movement toward democracy that has yet to occur. In The Middle East, Peretz asserts that nationalism was especially strong in Palestine after World War I, though he admits "its inhabitants did not consider themselves different from those who lived in the adjoining Arab regions that became the present-day nations of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan." Peretz: also incorrectly reports that Chaim Weizmann never reached an agreement with Emir Faisal, the son of Sherif Hussein. In fact, Faisal accepted the Balfour Declaration (another contradiction to the Arab claim that the Arabs believed the British promised them Palestine), but made the agreement contingent on the British fulfilling their promises. When they did not, the deal fell apart.

The American history books ignore Zionism, the waves of immigration to the holy land and the Balfour Declaration. In American Journey, Davidson et al. make it sound like the only Jews who wanted a homeland were those fleeing the Nazis.

Spontaneous Combustion

The mandatory period is described as a time when Arabs and Jews simultaneously or spontaneously clashed. Usually, no one is blamed for inciting the violence. Stearns et al. write in World History-Traditions and New Directions, for example, that Arabs lived in Palestine "for thousands of years." They mention violence between the two groups increasing over the years without drawing any distinctions as to whom the instigators were. Similarly, Beers says in World History--Patterns of Civilization that after World War II the Arabs felt threatened by a new wave of immigrants and "new clashes occurred .... The fighting escalated as Arabs and Jews fought to control the towns and villages of Palestine." Jewish immigration "continued and grew, until by the late 1930's, Jews accounted for nearly one-third of Palestine's population," Hantula et al. write in Global Insights. "Before long, riots and armed conflict broke out." But battles did not just break out, particularly at this time, when Arab guerrillas were carrying out most of the attacks. It was not until after the partition decision, and Arab forces had already begun to infiltrate, that Jews began to fight for control of towns and villages. The way these passages are written, however, the insinuation is that Jewish immigration rather than Arab rejectionism was the cause of the violence.

One of the more misleading accounts of the history leading up to the partition decision is presented by Wallbank and Schrier's Living World History, which says the Jews opposed an independent government based on a democratic vote because the government would have been dominated by Arabs. The implication is that the Arabs favored democracy while Zionists opposed it, and that the Palestinians wanted to hold a plebiscite to decide the fate of the area. In fact, nothing resembling democracy was extant in the Arab world and certainly was not a feature of Palestinian politics, which were driven primarily by longstanding clan relationships. The Arabs' position was that Palestine was only big enough for a state in which they would have total control, including the right to prevent Jewish immigration. After independence, Israel did adopt a democratic form of government in which Arab citizens had equal rights.

Though the United States played a vital role in the establishment of the State of Israel, little attention is paid to the crucial decisions made in 1947-48. Winthrop Jordan, Miriam Greenblatt and John Bowes write in The Americans (McDougal, Littell and Co., 1992) that the U.N. proclaimed the republic of Israel, but do not mention the creation of an Arab state or U.S. policy toward partition. Similarly, in History of the United States (Houghton Mifflin, 199 1), Thomas DiBacco, Lorna Mason and Christian Appy say that Jewish settlers founded the Jewish State. They do note that the Arab nations refused to accept Israel's existence and invaded after it was declared, but fail to elaborate.

According to Gary Nash's American Odyssey, "hostility between Arabs and Jews took root after World War II" (emphasis added). He says the Arabs dominated the region and would not give up their land to immigrant Jews, though they did in fact sell large amounts. In a Study Guide at the bottom of the section relating to the creation of Israel, Nash explains the Jewish connection with the land, but says that in 1948 "Jews reclaimed their ancient homeland, but in the process the Palestinians lost theirs." Of course, had they accepted partition, the Palestinians would have had a state. Moreover, most Palestinians remained in Palestine, in either the areas that became Israel or Jordan.

In A People & A Nation, Norton et al. say Israel was carved out of the British mandate without explaining how Great Britain came to control the area, what role the U.N. played or Jewish claims to the land. The authors jump to the recognition of Israel, which they explain by "America's perceived need for international allies" and Truman's "desire for Jewish American votes." While the latter justification is often cited, the former has never been raised by any scholar of the period. Paul Boyer et al., writing in The Enduring Vision: The History of the American People (DC Heath, 1990), also attribute Truman's decision to the Jewish vote, but at least acknowledge this was only part of the reason for his action. The book does not elaborate on the others.

One of the few American history books to discuss the situation prior to 1947 is David King et al's. The United States and Its People. When it comes to the UN partition decision, however, they attribute the result to sympathy for the victims of the Holocaust. They also create the misimpression that the 1948 war was between Palestinians and Jews by saying the Arab states sent troops to help the Palestinian Arabs when in fact most Palestinians fled to avoid the fighting and the Arab states attacked with the intention of driving the Jews into the sea.

Perhaps it is a rejection of the old methods of forcing students to memorize names and dates, but it was surprising to see how few of the books gave the precise dates of events. Hantula et al., for example, say in Global Insights that the Arabs invaded Israel in the spring of 1948. The exact date is important, however, because the Arabs invaded immediately after Israel's declaration of independence, demonstrating that the establishment of the state was viewed as the aggression rather than anything the new state did.

In the 1992 edition of The Human Experience-A World History, Farah and Karls give a good explanation of the partition plan and the Arab invasion of the new state, but they exaggerate Israel's military advantage, saying it was ready with a "flood of immigrants and arms." At the end of the war they say Israel had 77 percent of Palestine, 20 percent more than the U.N. gave them. Beers relates in World History--Patterns of Civilization that the war ended with Israel annexing Arab territory and increasing the size of its territory by 30 percent. In World History--Traditions and New Directions, Steams et al. say the U.N. drew up a plan for Palestine, but does not say that the General Assembly approved it. Instead, they write only that Arabs outnumbered Jews two-to-one in Palestine, omitting that Jews were a majority in the area allotted to them by the partition resolution and in Jerusalem. Though the Arabs invaded, they say, Israel ended with "most of Palestine."

It is true that in the course of defending itself against Arab aggression, Israel gained more territory than the U.N. allotted; nevertheless, it still held less than 20 percent of the land that was to have originally been the Jewish homeland because of the British severing Transjordan from Palestine. To their credit, Steams et al. and Farah and Karls point out that Jordan annexed the area that was to be the "Palestinian state," though they do not say that only two countries recognized this action.

Refugees & Revisionism

The history of the Palestinians is replete with factual errors, omissions and distortions. Most books give the same explanation for the Palestinian refugee problem, that they "fled or were expelled." No one refers to the thousands who left before the fighting began or before the war was over. Nor do they point out that the number expelled was a fraction of the total that left to avoid the war, or in response to Arab leaders' exhortations to leave. Farah and Karls, for example, say in The Human Experience--A World History that the Palestinians "decided-or were forced-to leave what had been their homeland." This comes after a discussion of the 1949 armistice, which insinuates the Palestinians fled after the war. In their 1992 edition, they adopted a more neutral position, reporting that as a result of war 700,000 Arabs became homeless. It is unclear where Farah and Karls and the other authors who use the same statistic came up with the number of refugees. The 700,000 figure is lower than the exaggerated Arab estimates, but still nearly one-third higher than that of the U.N. Mediator on Palestine.

In World History-For A Global Age, Abramowitz is the only author who alludes to the fact that 500,000 Jews fled Arab countries in what was, in effect, an exchange of populations. No mention is made of the mistreatment of Jews that provoked many to emigrate from the otherwise tolerant Islamic societies to Israel.

Also, little is said about the treatment the Palestinian refugees received from their brethren. A couple of books do point out the refugees were not welcomed by the Arab states. Schwartz and O'Connor observe in Exploring A Changing World that Arab nations have not given the Palestinians a home, but Wallbank and Schrier's Living World History is the only book to note that only Jordan gave them citizenship. The text also points out that refugee camps became bases for "violent attacks" against Israel. Hantula et al's. Global Insights claims they occupy important posts throughout the Persian Gulf, but neglect their inability to become citizens and the expulsion of tens of thousands of Palestinians after the Gulf War.

The number and condition of the refugees are distorted in every book that discusses them. Wallbank and Schrier say most refugee camps became "permanent settlements" without jobs, farms or services. Hantula et al., Stearns et al. and Beers all have nearly identical versions. According to these authors, one-third of the 3.5 million Palestinians live in exile, as many as two million confined to squalid refugee camps. These descriptions give the impression that millions of Palestinian refugees are suffering in camps, but this has not been the case for decades. According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, two-thirds of the approximately 2.2 million Palestinian refugees are not in camps. "They live and work like everyone else in the towns and villages of the Middle East," UNRWA reports. Moreover, of the five million Palestinians, nearly three-quarters now live in historic "Palestine," either as Israeli or Jordanian citizens or in the West Bank and Gaza.

Searching for Terrorists

It has become politically incorrect to refer to anyone as terrorists, so it was not surprising that most authors avoided the label. Beers notes in World History-Patterns of Civilization that Syria has been "accused of terrorism," but even this qualified charge is weakened when he misleadingly adds that Syria has also helped in hostage releases. Schwartz and O'Connor's Exploring A Changing World refers to attacks by "commandos who slip into Israel from neighboring Arab countries." Wallbank and Schrier (Living World History), Welty and Greenblatt (The Human Experience--World Regions and Cultures) and Davidson et al. (American Journey) call the PLO "guerrillas." In The Middle Fast, Peretz refers to the PLO as a "Palestinian nationalist organization," but acknowledges that Israel labels it "a 'terrorist' organization." Norton et al's. A People & A Nation says that Palestinian Arabs, many of whom had been "expelled from their homes in 1948," organized the PLO to destroy Israel. They mention attacks such as the Munich massacre, but do not label them terrorism. Moreover, the authors seem to equate PLO and Israeli actions by noting that "Israelis retaliated by assassinating PLO figures abroad." According to Stearns et al's World History--Traditions and New Directions, "guerilla groups" raided Israeli communities and hijacked airliners and "Israel retaliated by bombing Egyptian cities." The only clues as to where they came up with the notion that Israel bombed Egypt is if they somehow confused the PLO attacks with the War of Attrition.

Farah and Karls start a section in The Human Experience-A World History by saying "angry Palestinians turned to strong resistance to achieve nationhood," and that "militant refugees formed resistance groups" that merged in 1964 to form the PLO. They also write that after 1967 the PLO decided on armed struggle to "replace Israel with an independent Palestinian state for all Muslims, Jews and Christians." They mention the Munich massacre being committed by the PLO, but, like all the others make no reference to the PLO's covenant. In their newer edition, Farah and Karls use the forbidden word, but combined terrorist attacks and border raids so it is not clear who the perpetrators and victims are. At another point they say that Palestinians who protested against Israeli rule in the territories "could be arrested and see their homes bulldozed" and that the PLO fought back with hijackings and bombings when, in fact, PLO terrorism long preceded the Israeli actions to which they refer. Jordan et al. (The Americans) and Welty and Greenblatt (The Human Experience-World Regions and Cultures) also mention the PLO engaged in terrorist activities such as hijackings and the Munich massacre. The threat posed to Israel by terrorism is further diminished, however, by the failure to provide examples (beyond two references to Munich) of specific attacks.

The most dramatic exceptions to the reticence to accurately state the PLO's aims are found in Graff's America: The Glorious Republic, where the PLO is described as "a terrorist group pledged to the destruction of Israel," and in Schwartz and O'Connor's Exploring A Changing World, which has the following question in the chapter summary: "The PLO is pledged to attack and destroy: a) Egyptians, b) Israelis, c) Jordanians."

Incidentally, all the books get the origins of the PLO wrong. Wallbank and Schrier are the only ones who correctly state that the heads of the Arab states were involved. But instead of saying they created the PLO in 1964, Living World History incorrectly gives this as the date the PLO was recognized as the representatives of the Palestinian people, something that actually occurred a decade later.

Many books also came out shortly after Arafat's 1988 statements renouncing terrorism and recognizing Israel. Although the same authors should be aware of the PLO's subsequent contradictory actions, including the raid on an Israeli beach that caused the suspension of the U.S. -PLO dialogue, Arafat's words are given great importance. In American Odyssey, Nash maintains Arafat "took a step toward a solution." Welty and Greenblatt's The Human Experience--World Regions and Cultures says that he "more or less acknowledged that Israel had a 'right to exist,'" whatever that means. At least they correctly state that Arafat did not renounce military actions against Israel. Wallbank and Schrier's Living World History claims Arafat's remarks opened "the way for new negotiations for peace in the Middle East," though peace talks did not begin until almost three years later-after the PLO was forced behind the scenes. Meanwhile, Israel's arguments for distrusting Arafat are ignored.

The Heroic Intifada

The status of Palestinians in the territories is given surprisingly short-shrift. The information presented, however, is entirely one-sided. In Living World History, for example, Wallbank and Schrier mention universities being closed. Hantula et al. say in Global Insights that schools in the territories have been "subject to Israeli censorship" and those "who spoke out against the occupation risked being deported." It is fair to mention deprivations in the territories, but no one mentions the security concerns that prompt them. Schools were only closed after they ceased to be centers of learning and became instead staging grounds for violent demonstrations. All the universities are now open. Israeli "censorship" in schools has been restricted to replacing Jordanian textbooks laced with anti-Semitic references. The January 1993 deportation of more than 400 Hamas activists has reinforced the impression that expulsion is a common method of stopping protests, but it has actually been used sparingly. Moreover, just speaking out against the occupation has never been the cause for someone's expulsion. Even with the military administration, there is no shortage of Palestinians making their feelings known. In addition, if these books were to be consistent in their efforts to present issues in a balanced manner, they would discuss some improvements in living conditions in the territories since 1967.

Nash's American Odyssey acknowledges that Israel modernized the territories in the 1970's and 80's, but says the Palestinians "were forced to carry identity cards, usually got the most menial jobs and, if suspected of causing trouble, could be beaten, arrested or have their homes bulldozed into rubble." In truth, Israelis also carry identity cards. Palestinians often are employed in low-paying jobs because they are willing to take them and Israelis generally are not. They are not forced into them. Finally, Palestinians have to do more than simply be suspected of causing trouble to merit the treatment Nash describes. Demolishing homes, for example, is a punishment rarely used and then only for severe crimes. More important, unlike elsewhere in the Middle East, the Palestinians have recourse to the courts.

Some more recent texts discuss the intifada, which is always described as a reaction to Israeli actions. No reference is made in Nash (American Odyssey) or the others to the internecine warfare labeled the intrafada. Norton et al. simply refer in A People & A Nation to Israeli forces using brute force to quell "rock-throwing youths." Nash and Farah and Karls' newer edition of The Human Experience--A World History incorrectly say the intifada started when Israeli soldiers were surrounded and shot and killed a 17-year-old. Welty and Greenblatt's The Human Experience--World Regions and Cultures is the only book to give a complete and accurate explanation of how the intifada started. Nash actually devotes more space to inaccurately explaining the outbreak of the uprising than any other aspect of the conflict or U.S.-Israel relations. More disturbing than the narrative, however, is the use of a photo of Palestinian women demonstrating next to a picture of the Mandelas, creating the misimpression of a symmetry between the struggles of Palestinians and black South Africans.

The treatment of Arabs in Israel is largely ignored. One exception is Peretz, who wrote in The Middle East that they "are not integrated into the nation's social and political structure." He calls them second-class citizens. Arab citizens of Israel have suffered hardships because of their exemption from military service and inequalities in funding of Arab municipalities, but they have greater political rights than Palestinians anywhere else in the Middle East. They have political parties and Knesset representation, and are probably as integrated into Israeli society as most minorities are elsewhere.

War Erupts

The treatment of the causes and conduct of the Arab-Israeli wars in all the texts was appalling. The complexities of the conflict are usually reduced to the Palestinians wanting independence and Israel resisting. The Arabs' refusal to accept a Jewish state in their midst is softened to an unwillingness to "recognize" Israel, a subtle difference that suggests passivity rather than an active campaign to destroy Israel. Arab intransigence is never suggested as a cause of the dispute. The books generally avoid describing Arab provocations (none mention the Arab boycott), while several go so far as to blame Israel for the wars. In World History--Traditions and New Directions, for example, Stearns et al. say "Israel's quick and successful growth and modernization contributed even more to Arab-Israeli hostility."

The most consistently incomplete and inaccurate accounts are of the Suez war. Every world history text attributes the cause to Nasser's nationalization of the Suez Canal. Not one mentions the fedayeen raids or other Egyptian provocations that led Israel to join Great Britain and France in the war. The closest any come to suggesting Egypt provoked Israel is a reference to Nasser blocking the canal (but not the Straits of Tiran) to Israeli shipping. Stearns et al. assert the Arabs turned away from Western nations because they supported Israel, but they do not relate that the United States opposed the war and pressured Israel to withdraw from the territory it captured.

A People & A Nation, by Norton et al., also gets it wrong, suggesting the Suez War occurred because Secretary of State John Foster Dulles lost patience with Nasser when he declared neutrality in the Cold War. Nothing is said about Egypt's arms deal with the Soviets. As in their earlier reference to the rationale for recognizing Israel, these authors say America's position toward Israel was related to "a vocal Jewish-American lobby." Boyer et al. write in The Enduring Vision that "Israeli troops stormed into Egypt." King et al's. The United States and Its People says that Israel attacked "bases from which Arabs had been raiding Israel," but fail to mention the blockade and erroneously report that the British and French were forced to withdraw from territory they occupied while Israel was allowed to keep the Sinai.

The other American history books were an improvement. Davidson et al. (American Journey), Jordan et al. (The Americans) and DiBacco et al. (History of the United States) explain that Egypt's blockade of the Suez Canal provoked Israel. Jordan and his coauthors are the only ones to also mention Egyptian terrorism as a cause of the war. None of the texts say anything about the blockade of the Gulf of Aqaba.

Accounts of the Six-Day War are not much better. In fact, with two exceptions, the American history texts skip the conflict altogether. In A People & A Nation, Norton et al. say only that Israel used American weapons "to score victories over Egypt and Syria" and that Israel seized the West Bank and the ancient city of Jerusalem from Jordan, the Golan Heights from Syria and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt." Boyer et al's The Enduring Vision makes a similar reference to Jerusalem being seized from Jordan. Similarly, Abramowitz talks in World History-For A Global Age about Egyptian provocations in 1967, but does not say anything about Jordan or Syria. He then states that Israel took territory from all three countries, making it sound like there was no reason for its action on the Golan Heights or the West Bank. He also says that Jerusalem had been an international city, ignoring Jordanian control from 1949 on. Steams et al's. World History--Traditions and New Directions says Israel seized "Jordan's West Bank" and the "Jordanian half of Jerusalem." No one relates that Israel warned King Hussein to stay out of the fighting, and that it was his failure to do so that led to the territory he occupied being taken. Moreover, they create the false impression that Jordan has a claim to Jerusalem.

In World History-Patterns of Civilization, Beers writes that "both sides had been building up their armed forces" before the war and that during the fighting Israel seized the "Arab half of Jerusalem." In the 1990 edition of The Human Experience-A World History, Farah and Karls do not give any cause for the Six-Day War. The 1992 edition, however, does talk about Syria engaging in border clashes and wanting to eliminate Israel, the only reference any book makes to Syrian provocations. They add, however, that Nasser "aided Syria by closing the Gulf of Aqaba to Israel," creating the misperception that Egypt was more of an accomplice than the provocateur. The same section has a picture with the following caption: "Learning from Photographs. An Israeli armored vehicle patrols the Golan Heights. What other land did Israel seize in the Six-Day War?" If this is what students are being taught to learn from pictures, the thought of what they might be taking away from the evening news is truly frightening.

In The Human Experience-World Regions and Cultures, Welty and Greenblatt say the U.S. supported Israel in 1967 when, in fact, Johnson imposed an arms embargo and had warned against going to war. They are among the few authors to say anything about Soviet involvement in the conflict; however, they make it sound as if Soviet aid to Egypt and Syria was equal to that given to Israel by the U.S. before 1973. In fact, American aid was relatively small until the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War. The Soviets completely rebuilt the Arab arsenals while Israel was struggling to convince the United States to supply sophisticated aircraft.

All of the texts ignore the War of Attrition, reflecting a general tendency not to treat the engagements from 1969-70 as a war. But fighting lasted 16 months and resulted in the death of 600 Israeli soldiers and 127 civilians. Another 2,000 soldiers and 700 civilians were wounded.

One of the most glaring omissions from several books is the failure to mention that the 1973 war began when Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Yom Kippur. Beers (World History-Patterns of Civilization), for example, says they just declared war. Norton et al. (A People & A Nation) write that Egypt and Syria attacked Israel on October 6. Nash (American Odyssey) refers to the war twice, one to say that an oil embargo was imposed on the United States and another to falsely report that "in 1948, 1956, 1967 and again in 1973, the Israelis fought wars with Arab forces, gaining more land with each victory." The impression given is that Israel was fighting wars for the acquisition of territory. Farah and Karls (The Human Experience-A World History claim Egypt and Syria "fought to get back land lost" in 1967, without mentioning when or how the attack occurred. In the 1992 edition, they correct this. Abramowitz (World History-For A Global Age) is one of the few to point out that other Arab states participated in the war.

Boyer et al. distort the origins of the war in The Enduring Vision. "Following a several-year-long Arab war of attrition against the Israelis, and concurrent bombing raids by Israel on its neighbors, Moscow-backed Syrian and Egyptian forces launched an all-out attack against Israel." The surprise attack did not immediately follow the war of attrition, which effectively ended in 1970, nor was it related to bombing raids by Israel. The turning point in the war is attributed to "massive U.S. shipments of highly sophisticated weaponry," but the almost equally massive Soviet shipment of sophisticated arms to the Arabs is not mentioned.

After the war, Boyer et al. assert that Nixon "shifted U.S. foreign policy from its traditional exclusive support for Israel to a more evenhanded relationship with the contending Middle Eastern nations." This is almost the exact opposite of what happened. It was only after 1973 that the U.S. began to explicitly work to give Israel a qualitative advantage over its adversaries. The text goes on to credit Henry Kissinger's shuttle diplomacy with smoothing U.S.-Arab relations, but asserts this "did not alter the root cause of Middle Eastern stability, especially the fate of the Palestinians." The notion that the plight of the Palestinians is central to the conflict is not surprising given the book's almost total neglect of inter-Arab disputes and U.S. policy toward countries like Jordan, Iraq, Libya and Saudi Arabia.

Discussing the period between 1979 and 1982, Norton et al. write in A People & A Nation: "Even ally Israel gave the United States trouble" by bombing PLO camps in Lebanon and "killing hundreds of civilians," and by annexing the Golan Heights. "Many American supporters of Israel, recognizing that the Jewish state faced hostile Arabs, nonetheless became impatient with Israel's provocative acts toward its neighbors." This is a complete distortion of the situation during those years. Israeli attacks on PLO camps did cause casualties but these were not unprovoked. Moreover, it is not clear who they are referring to when they say American supporters of Israel were impatient. On the contrary, support during those years was quite strong. The authors continue in a misleading direction when they write that in June 1982 Israeli troops "invaded civil war-torn Lebanon, cutting their way to the capital Beirut and inflicting massive damage. The beleaguered PLO and various Lebanese factions called upon Syria to contain the Israelis. Thousands of civilians died in the multifaceted conflict and a million people became refugees." Again, the authors give the impression that Israel's actions were unprovoked and disproportionate. They hedge by calling the conflict "multifaceted," but only refer to the Israeli role.

Similarly, Abramowitz's World History for A Global Age says Israel "accused" the PLO of using Lebanon as a base. Though Palestinians are sometimes mentioned as a destabilizing force, most books ignore the fact that King Hussein crushed the PLO revolt in Jordan and sparked the Palestinian exodus to Lebanon. The impression given is that the Palestinians in Lebanon all came from Israel.

The Syrian role in Lebanon is consistently whitewashed. In The Middle East, Peretz says only that Syria was authorized to intervene in the civil war. Steams et al. assert in World History- Traditions and New Directions the "Syrians feared that a Muslim victory would invite an Israeli invasion of their country." No one explains Hafez Assad's vision of Greater Syria or Syria's continued occupation of Lebanon. In the later edition of The Human Experience-A World History Farah and Karls go as far as to speak of new signs of "hope" in Lebanon in 1990 because of Syria ousting a Christian General (Michel Aoun) who stood in the way of the Arab League's peace plan.

Recent volumes also briefly discuss the Gulf War. Schwartz and O'Connor's Exploring A Changing World calls the Persian Gulf crisis "the most serious situation to date in the Middle East." They assert the war was over oil, not even referencing the Bush Administration's declared reasons. Also, no mention is made of the SCUD attack on Israel.

Israel as the Obstacle to Peace

The peace process is consistently handled simplistically, routinely putting the onus on Israel for the conflict and portraying Israelis as uncompromising. In The Middle East, for example, Peretz says that after 1967 "many Israelis believed that their country was the dominant military power in the Middle East. Because of this belief, they thought they would be able to maintain the status quo without making any concessions." This despite the fact that Israel was prepared to withdraw from much of the West Bank and, as Peretz acknowledges, later did give back the Sinai.

Considering the frequent discussion in the press of U.N. Resolution 242, it was surprising that none of the books cite it. The closest any came were Farah and Karls saying in The Human Experience-A World History that the U.N. asked Israel to withdraw, but it refused to do so until the Arabs recognize its right to exist. Elsewhere, however, they place the responsibility more clearly on the Israelis, asserting that they "have refused to negotiate until their country is recognized by the Arabs." It is untrue that Israel made this a precondition of talks; moreover, past negotiations all took place without Arab recognition. This misplaced emphasis on Arab recognition also brings to mind Abba Eban's remark: "There is certainly no other state, big or small, young or old, that would consider mere recognition of its 'right to exist' a favor, or a negotiable concession" (New York Times, November 15, 1981). More important, however, the essence of Resolution 242 is distorted by failing to make clear the linkage between territorial withdrawal and peace.

In A People & A Nation, Norton et al. note that Israel and Egypt reached an agreement in 1975 whereby peacekeepers would be moved into the Sinai. But, they say, other problems remained: "the homeless Palestinian Arabs, Israeli occupation of Jerusalem and the West Bank, Israel's insistence on building settlements in occupied lands, and Arab threats to destroy the Jewish state." It is bizarre to equate the Arab desire to destroy Israel with political disagreements over the West Bank. Moreover, the authors are revising history to make it seem as though current disputes were issues nearly 20 years ago. For example, what homeless Palestinians are they referring to? No Palestinians were displaced in the 1973 war and none from earlier conflicts lacked places to live. Israel's control of the territories was indeed an issue, but little settlement activity took place before 1977 and did not become a major issue until it was raised by President Carter.

On the subject of peace, Camp David is usually given prominence, though the facts are sometimes garbled. Schwartz and O'Connor devote one sentence in Exploring A Changing World to the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, but do not mention Camp David. Farah and Karls give away their bias in The Human Experience-A World History by discussing the subject under the subhead, "Separate Peace." Welty and Greenblatt got their facts partially right in The Human Experience--World Regions and Cultures. They are among the few to give Begin credit for inviting Sadat to Jerusalem, but they say the invitation was to Egypt's "new leader," though Sadat had been in power for seven years. Wallbank and Schrier's Living World History teaches that the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty is known as the Camp David Accords. Actually, the accords established the framework for peace; the treaty was signed six months later. Though they and some others acknowledge that Israel returned the Sinai, no sense of the magnitude of this sacrifice is given. No one mentions, for example, that the Sinai constituted 91 percent of the territory Israel won in 1967.

Given that the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty was one of the most significant diplomatic achievements of the postwar era, the American history texts might have been expected to devote a bit more attention to the subject. Norton et al's. A People & A Nation has a paragraph on Camp David, crediting President Carter's "tenacious diplomacy" for the treaty and not even mentioning Sadat's trip to Jerusalem. In The Enduring Vision, Boyer et al. say "Carter saw an opening" when Sadat made his historic trip, but the truth was almost the opposite. Carter saw Sadat's move as jeopardizing his plans to achieve a comprehensive settlement. In The United States and Its People, King et al. at least grant Begin credit for inviting Sadat to Jerusalem, but they give the false impression that Carter's meeting with Sadat in April 1977 to discuss aid was linked to the Egyptian President's decision to go to Jerusalem in November. If there was any linkage, it was Sadat's recognition that Carter's policy would not lead to a breakthrough and that he had to act unilaterally. Nash has a truly unique interpretation of the events leading to the peace treaty, arguing in American Odyssey that Carter seized the opportunity after hearing Sadat tell Walter Cronkite that he would do whatever he could to make peace with Israel. Neither Nash nor several of the others discuss the substance of the agreement or its significance.

The peace process after Camp David receives no real attention. Norton et al. wrote in A People & A Nation that Washington continued to offer peace plans, but that "Israel refused to negotiate." In The Enduring Vision, Boyer et al. state that the Reagan Plan called for the creation of a Palestinian homeland on the West Bank, something the plan does not say. Moreover, the book doesn't mention that the Arabs joined Israel in opposing it. Welty and Greenblatt write in The Human Experience--World Regions and Cultures that, following Camp David, Palestinians looked forward to a Palestinian state. They are also the only ones to report the Shamir election proposal. In the 1992 edition of The Human Experience-A World History, Farah and Karls note that the Palestinians never had self-rule under Jordan, which annexed the West Bank, a key fact ignored by the other texts and these authors in earlier editions. Peretz's The Middle East is the only book to acknowledge that no Palestinians called for a state from 1949-67 while Jordan controlled the West Bank.

An important aspect of the pursuit of peace from 1979 until August 1993 was the Palestinian rejection of autonomy. Still, Palestinian intransigence is never mentioned or implied. Instead, the problem is reduced to the refusal of Israel to accept what is presented as the reasonable desire of Palestinians to return to their land and create "a democratic nonreligious Palestinian state." Even if the complexity of the issue could be reduced to such a simple formula, it is still grossly misleading to suggest the Palestinians would adopt such a government given the undemocratic nature of its current society and the salience of religion that is evident in the ongoing battles between Islamic groups and the PLO.

Stearns et al. stray from presenting historical facts to polemics when they assert in World History--Traditions and New Directions that the chances of Palestinians reaching their goal of an independent state diminished as Israel established settlements. The settlement issue, otherwise, is not raised in the various texts, which is probably for the best given the virtual certainty that their role, location and numbers would go unexplained.

A few books mention that security is an issue, but do not go beyond vague generalities. No analysis of the geography of Israel is presented despite the emphasis many books place on the physical description of nations. Furthermore, the debate in Israel about the territories is portrayed misleadingly. For example, in World History--Patterns of Civilization Beers gives the impression that the extreme positions on the right and left are the most prevalent: "Some want to expel all Arabs from the West Bank. Other Israelis favor compromise. Some would accept a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River under certain conditions."

Conclusion

It would be nice to say that this study unearthed some high quality texts, but it would not be true. Of the 18 books, only two deserve recommendations. In world history, Welty and Greenblatt's, The Human Experience--World Regions and Cultures does the best job of covering important events with a minimum of distortion. Still, as noted throughout the study, the book has some deficiencies. Among the American history texts, Henry Graff's, America: The Glorious Republic was easily the class of the field (and ironically the oldest). This book was not flawless, but it provided an excellent presentation of the facts. The lack of references in this study to mistakes is evidence of the quality of scholarship.

One reason the texts are so bad is that they are not adequately reviewed by experts in the field. The authors also appear to overlook basic sources and most lack footnotes or bibliographies. The couple of books that did have references only seemed to prove the inadequacy of the authors' research. In Global Insights, for example, Hantula et al. cite obscure or marginal sources such as a book on the Palestinians by Frank Epp published in 1976. Peretz, a legitimate Middle East expert, inexplicably uses as sources for The Middle East, Uri Avnery, Amos Elon, Amos Oz and David Shipler. The only serious historian listed in his bibliography on modem Israel is Howard Sachar.

Publishers may argue that later editions of books correct earlier errors, but none of the revised works reviewed here eliminated all the problems. In fact, some newer texts were made worse. In addition, many schools can afford to replace texts only infrequently, so many students will continue to be educated with misinformation from the earlier volumes.

What Can Be Done?

The only way the quality of education can be improved is if parents take an active role in their children's schooling. Students are not likely to recognize problems with their textbooks, it's up to their parents. If a book appears problematic, the relevant passages can be forwarded to the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise for analysis. If they are inaccurate or biased, we would recommend that a protest be made to the teacher, the school and the school board, outlining the problem and expressing an interest in seeing that a more suitable book be used.

Besides alerting local school officials, protests should also be made to the publishers. The people who are responsible for putting out textbooks are not anti-Semites out to corrupt the nation's youth. Often they are harried editors who depend on reviewers to catch errors. The best publishers do not want mistakes in their books and will take steps to correct them. Sometimes, they may be reluctant. In the case of The Enduring Vision, I wrote an article on its deficiencies in the Near East Report, which provoked many angry letters to DC Heath. The publisher's initial response was defensive, claiming there "were a few factual slips" but that passages were quoted out of context. Reputable experts were subsequently brought in, however, to correct the errors and to provide more background explanations of Middle East events. In the end, the publisher produced a better book and students had a more useful educational tool.

Bibliography

Abramowitz, Jack, World History--For A Global Age (1985, Globe Book, 190 Sylvan Ave., Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632).
Beers, Benton, World History--Patterns of Civilization (1990, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632).
Boyer, Paul et al., The Enduring Vision, (1990, DC Heath, 125 Spring St., Lexington, MA 02173).
Davidson, James West, Mark Lytle and Michael Staff, American Journey, (1992, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632).
DiBacco, Thomas, Lorna Mason and Christian Appy, History of the United States, (1991, Houghton Mifflin Co., One Beacon St., Boston, MA 02108).
Farah, Mounir, and Andrea Karls, The Human Experience--A World History, (1990, 1992, Merrill Publishing, 445 Hutchinson Ave., Columbus, OH 43235),
Graff, Henry, America: The Glorious Republic, (1988, Houghton Mifflin Co., One Beacon St., Boston, MA 02108).
Hantula, James, et al., Global Insights-People And Culture, (198 8, 1994, Glencoe Division, Macmillan/McGraw Hill, 936 Eastwind Dr., Westerville, OH 43081).
Jordan, Winthrop, Miriam Greenblatt and John Bowes, The Americans, (1992, McDougal, Littell and Co., Box 1667, Evanston, IL 60204).
King, David, Norman McRae, Jaye Zola, The United States and Its People, (1993, Addison Wesley, Rte. 128, Reading, MA 01867).
Nash, Gary, American Odyssey, (1991, Glencoe Division, Macmillan/McGraw Hill, 936 Eastwind Dr., Westerville, OH 43081).
Norton, Mary Beth, et al., A People & A Nation, (1990, Houghton Mifflin Co., One Beacon St., Boston, MA 02108).
Peretz, Don, The Middle East (1990, Houghton Mifflin Co., One Beacon St., Boston, MA 02108).
Reich, Jerome, Mark Krug and Edward Biller, World History, (1990, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1627 Woodland Ave., Austin, TX 78741).
Schwartz, Melvin and John O'Connor, Exploring A Changing World (1993, Globe Book, 190 Sylvan Ave., Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632).
Steams, Peter, Donald Schwartz and Barry Beyer, World History-Traditions and New Directions (1989, Addison-Wesley, Rte. 128, Reading, MA 01867).
Wallbank, T. Walter and Arnold Schrier, Living World History (1990, Scott, Foresman and Co., 1900 E Lake Ave., Glenview, IL 60025).
Welty, Paul Thomas and Miriam Greenblatt, The Human Experience--World Regions and Cultures, (1992, Glencoe Division, Macmillan/McGraw Hill, 936 Eastwind Dr., Westerville, OH 43081).


Back to Top